The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die

support mewithoutYou
author PP date 02/02/16 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

Tuesday nights are not usually well attended for concerts in Copenhagen, especially in niche genres. Tonight, however, is an exception. With art rockers mewithoutYou and hyped emo/post-rock hybrid The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die touring together as a co-headliner package, Loppen is about 75% full based on a rough head count. Both groups are slotted in for a full hour's worth of performance, more than sufficient for airing the best parts and some more experimental material in the process. You could make the argument for switching the two bands around on the billing because mewithoutYou had, by and large, a bigger audience, many of whom departed early long before The World Is A Beautiful Place were done playing. Their loss. Kudos to the whole crowd for largely avoiding loud chatter during the quieter songs for both bands, that doesn't happen too often.

mewithoutYou

My first introduction to the utterly intriguing and strange live performance of mewithoutYou was back in 2007 when they were part of the Give It A Name festival in London. What impressed me most back then was vocalist Aaron Weiss and his drunk and disorderly mental hospital escapee style rambling performance that struck gold with its explosive avant-garde style. As the band open with "Pale Horse" tonight, I'm happy to report not much has changed in that department. Utilizing two microphones in front of him - one effect-laden and distorted, the other one normal - his dazzling style has more akin to performance art than to your ordinary front men. First of all, his range is spectacular, seamlessly shifting from quiet whispers into normal singing and explosive post-hardcore inspired by Bear Vs. Shark vocalist Marc Paffi. Then there's his frenetic dance moves all around the stage that often result in him grabbing his fellow band mates into a neck lock while they're playing increasingly complex sessions. He's everywhere - dancing, moving around in strange circles, and making a mockery of any vocalists who spend their sets largely standing still.

At the same time, the rest of the band are in constant small movement. The whole set has an eerie vibe of unpredictable to it, what with Weiss's drunken appearance, the other guys' intense small-space movement, and the songs that go from soothing emo-laden post-rock into voluminous spoken word post-hardcore (which inspired Hotel Books) in just a few passages. Granted, the quieter songs are the least interesting tonight, because they don't allow the band go crazy on stage like when the cymbals are crashing and post-hardcore explosions are taking place. The quiet/loud dynamic is in good use throughout, but the band should pace their set better. Each time a more aggressive song electrifies the crowd, a lull appears in the form of a quieter song that drains the crowd from energy. The set is hypnotizing during the former moments, and at its worst, yawn-inducing average during the latter. We'll go with an in-between rating.

Setlist:

  • 1. Pale Horse
  • 2. Red Cow
  • 3. Nice and Blue (Pt. Two)
  • 4. Leaf
  • 5. Magic Lantern Days
  • 6. Timothy Hay
  • 7. Yellow Spider
  • 8. Silencer
  • 9. Mexican War Streets
  • 10. Orange Spider
  • 11. A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains
  • 12. January 1979
  • 13. Aubergine
  • 14. Fox's Dream of the Log Flume
  • 15. In a Sweater Poorly Knit
  • 16. Rainbow Signs

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die

Their name that reads like a novel isn't the only thing that sticks out about The World Is A Beautiful Place, they can barely fit on the Loppen stage with eight people on stage. You might be tempted to ask if it's really necessary to have four guitarists on stage, but the answer presented by TWIABP tonight is: absolutely. With a beautifully layered barrage of riffs creating an ear-bleeding wall of sound, their guitars are what create the back-chilling moments their loudest songs create. It's a curious mixture between post-rock and revivalist emo, featuring the crescendo and lengthy buildups of the former with the heartfelt and melancholic high pitch crooning of the latter. Occasionally, their lone female keyboardist Katie Shanholtzer-Dvorak lends her soothing and more fragile voice as a contrasting element on the back, this is at its very best when directly juxtaposed against lead singer David Bello's classic emo style, which echoes Iron Chic's Jason Lubrano.

Bello isn't afraid to interact with the front rows of the crowd, often having a few words with a passionate fan up front in between songs. It creates a cozy, down-to-earth environment, and even induces a couple of small sing-alongs occasionally. They utilize crazy quiet/loud dynamics, best highlighted on "Picture Of A Tree That Doesn't Look Okay", which starts as a somber and quiet emo ballad with post-rock ambiance, and features an insane tempo change halfway through. Here, it's not just the guitars that form layer upon layer on each other, but it at times feels like everyone in the band is singing on top of each other. The highlight song of the set for sure, with the exception of tonight's final song "Getting Sodas", best known as the song where the band name appears in the lyrics. At the end of the 60 minutes, we've seen a solid set of lengthy songs dressed in experimental and artistic format. While not as animated on stage as mewithoutYou earlier (perhaps due to space constraints, but definitely due to Aaron Weiss being the better front man live), The World Is A Beautiful Place have arguably better songs because they are far more melodic, louder and more detailed than mewithoutYou's poetic ramblings. Either way, both bands did good tonight without being spectacular.

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